Anyone who is thinking of venturing into homesteading, farming on a very small scale, had better be prepared. The following is a list of things, some skills, some assets, needed to start up a homesteading lifestyle.
Before becoming a homesteader a person needs to be sure they can afford to do so. Not only will their be numerous things to purchase, but being self sufficient is not instant, you will still need money for certain things. Many people find it best to maintain a part time job while homesteading, in addition to having savings in the bank. This helps bring in an income for all the things that cannot be grown, or raised, on your homestead.
If two people (a husband and wife for example) plan on having a homestead, both may want part time jobs worked in such a way that one of them can be home at all times – particularly if any livestock are being kept. This covers the money aspect and allows time for working on the homestead. The following activities will need regular maintenance depending on each situation:
- Weeding – Some weeds you can eat!
- Watering – plants and animals
- Feeding – animals
- Birthing (calving, lambing, etc)
- Collecting Eggs
- Cleaning Barns/Coops
- Slaughtering – Butchering
- Fence and Equipment Repair and Maintenance
- Chopping Wood (must be done before winter)
- Protecting your Garden from Deer and Other Wildlife
A homesteader must be strong and healthy, able to do their own work without relying on others. Homesteading requires a lot of physical activity, and is pretty much pulled to a halt when the homesteader is unable to physically do what is needed.
It is a good idea for the homesteader to be well versed in cooking from scratch.
A homesteader must be reliant on themselves to build things as needed, fix things as needed, and care for their own animals as needed – this may mean giving medication, or helping an animal in labor.
A homesteader must be flexible, accepting that things do not always go as planned, or when planned.
Suggestions for Homesteading the First Year
In the first year the garden should be started, potatoes ( I like the colorful spuds myself) are one of the easiest things to grow in most areas, and aside from hilling them up occasionally, and checking for potato bugs (have the kids help remove them by hand), potatoes are fairly easy to grow.
Plant some fruit trees, and raspberries. These will take a year or so to establish themselves, and particularly with the fruit trees, several years until a real production is made, as such planting them as soon as possible (in your first year) is key!
Build a chicken coop and get a few laying hens (3-8) for egg production. The hens can be slaughtered before winter or kept for the following year, however egg laying does decrease after the hen are two years old.
Use the rest of the first year to expand the garden, get fencing, build barns, and so forth.
Make friends with other homesteaders in the area, that way you can share your produce with them and visa versa. You can also share tips, and advice, as well as physical labor when needed just like farmers did years ago.
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Published in: Rural Living